What does Generation Y want
from your association?
Rob Davidson, University of Greenwich
UIA Associations Round Table, Singapore
Which generation are YOU ?
Four generations in the active population:
• Traditionalists, born between 1925 and 1942 –
mainly retired
• Baby Boomers, born between 1943 and 1960 –
beginning to retire
• Generation X, born between 1961 and 1976
- managing
• Generation Y, born between 1977 and 1995
- demanding
Since 2008
• Generations X and Y have been
able to out-vote Baby Boomers
• Their values are replacing those of
the previous generations, in the
workplace and elsewhere
By 2025, approximately 75% of
the world’s workforce will be
Generation Y
Bye bye, Baby Boomers
“We are moving away from the values,
attitudes and lifestyles of the once influential
Baby Boomers (born 1943 to 1960) toward
the values, attitudes and lifestyles of the
younger generations”.
(Hira, 2007)
Generation Y Characteristics
• Seeking work-life balance
Blurring the lines between
socialising and work
• Global citizens
Socially and environmentally
Conscious. More tolerant
• Life-long learners
Seek access to personal development
Generation Y Characteristics
• Tech-savvy (or tech-dependent?)
– Electronic devices are ‘extra limbs’
– The web is a 2-way communication tool
– Multi-tasking
• Instant gratification
– Shorter attention spans
– Need constant feedback
– Like a lot of options
Generation Y – Challenges for
• Most associations are ageing in terms of
• Many of your current members could be the
parents of Gen Y
• Gen Y are a hard sell. Fiercely individualistic:
love groups, not teams
• Gen Y is not long-term-commitment driven.
Frequent job-changers
Generation Y – Challenges for
• They have a sense of entitlement, which can
make them high-maintenance customers
• They need a different style of management:
“If you try to manage Gen-Y using an old, outdated,
command-and-control style of leadership, this generation
will walk out your door before lunch. And before the end
of the day, they'll blog, IM, and text about their experience
with you (warning their friends to stay away)”
Winning Gen-Y members
Communicating with them:
“Generation Y depends on visual learning. All their lives,
they were raised on graphics, games, the Internet and
online games. This is a generation whose marketing has
been pictorial and graphic … to attract them, you need to
be dynamic in your use of graphics and pictures”
Lynch, 2006. qu. Dr. Rach of New York University
Winning Gen-Y members
• Use as few words and as many strong
images as possible
• Think in text-messaging format – short, very
short, efficient messages
• Communicate with them FREQUENTLY !
Winning Gen-Y members
• The best resource for attracting Gen Y
members is your current Gen Y members
• Interview some young members about what
they're getting out of their membership,
personally and professionally
• Gen Y values lifestyle and relationships above
work, so sell your association as a whole new
lifestyle for them
Winning Gen-Y members
• ASK THEM what they want from you:
• … educational courses that are of interest,
have convenient time frames, at affordable
prices; their chosen means of communication
• Include it into your strategic plans, and
actually DO it.
Using technology
• They expect to get all the information they
need about a topic online, so if your
association doesn't have a solid presence on
the Web, you need to build one
• Create pages for on social networking sites
like Facebook
• Put video testimonials from current members
on YouTube to explain why members of
Generation Y should join
Using technology
• But avoid jumping into the social media
network unless you actually have something
to offer – added value
Case-study: AALL and Gen Y
• Chicago-based. Over 5000 members
• Created a Gen X / Gen Y Caucus in 2005
• Inspired by the ‘AALL Task Force on
Generation X and Generation Y’
Case-study: AALL and Gen Y
• Mission = To provide a forum for younger AALL
members and those AALL members who are
young at heart to connect with one another and
foster an environment of lifetime learners within
the profession
• To be an important additional voice in the AALL
organization, increase the knowledge and ability
of our members, and to assist them in their
continued growth toward a rewarding career
Case-study: AALL and Gen Y
• Works through sub-groups:
• Image, Newsletter, Program, Publications,
Social …
Designing events that will attract
Generation Y
• They like to be asked for their opinions,
• They love interactivity
• They want involvement at the planning
- Choice of destination
- Choice of topics, speakers
- Choice of social activities
From speakers, they
want • SHORTER presentations
• Infotainment / Edutainment
• ‘The adult learners of today expect "infotainment,"
the delivery of information in an entertaining
format… There aren't many places that people go
where they are not treated to a ‘show’ - and
meetings are no exception’.
Ramsborg G and Tinnish S, How Adults Learn, Part 2, from Convene magazine (PCMA), February 2008.
From speakers, they want • Information that can help them advance in their
current jobs or become better prepared when they
move on. Motivational speakers don’t motivate
• Information they cannot get off the Internet or from
a book.
• Speakers who are in a position of power. They want
to know how the ‘game’ is played.
• PowerPoint to be used correctly:
(Ann Fishman
- more STRUCTURE required
Social legacy
• The antidote to
consumption and
• Generates positive
• Ethically sound
Conference venues for
Generation Y
Chill-out zones
Natural daylight
Outdoor areas
Green !
Iconic design
• The continuing success of your association
depends upon achieving a firm
understanding of what Generation Y really
• Many of the traditional association services
and conference programmes will not
motivate this generation
• But we must offer services that will satisfy
the needs of ALL generations in the
workforce – without alienating anyone.
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